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Monday, July 6, 2009

My Defense of Sarah Palin

In this defense, I will do something I try and avoid and attempt to get into some one's head. As such, I will take her at her word and assume she left because she doesn't want to serve out as a lame duck. First, there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the attacks on Palin. All those that call Palin a quitter should have been equally as tough on the likes of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. George W. Bush, especially, ran for governor of Texas in 1998. Within a year, he was running for President and two years later he was president. Senator Barack Obama was elected Senator of Illinois and began his term in January of 2005. By Janaury of 2007, he was officially running for President. By January of 2009, he was president. If Sarah Palin is "quitting on the voters of Alaska", what exactly did the other two do? If this seems a bit of a stretch, let's remember the fiasco surrounding Obama's Senate seat. None of that would have happened if he had finished the term he was elected for.

In fact, this move may in fact be done out of nothing but pure political ambition. If so, I still fail to see how it is any different from both Bush and Obama. What was it if not political ambition that made those two run for a higher office after spending nothing more than a cup of coffee in the office they had just been elected to? If Sarah Palin is to be excoriated, then it would only be fair to excoriate both Bush and Obama. Yet, I must have forgotten all the righteous indignation directed at them.

The politically correct thing to say is that she quit on the voters of Alaska. In reality, substantively, Palin is right. Once she became a lame duck governor, she would be nothing more than a figure head. She would no longer be able to drive policy or legislation. Anything she attempted to do would be stalled in the legislature until she ended her term.

Palin faced several decisions. Clearly, she didn't want to run for another term. In such a case, she could have waited as long as possible to announce that intention. By doing so, she would have been able to keep her gubernatorial power longer. Yet, by doing so, she also would have put all potential Republican challengers in a more difficult position. The longer she waited, the more difficult it would have been for other Republicans to organize. Meanwhile, the Democrats would be rolling full steam ahead with their primary challengers.

Once she announced that she would not seek re election, she was effectively through as Governor. Outside of major disasters, there was little that Palin could do as governor. So, she could serve out her term as nothing much more of a figure head. On the other hand, she could pass on the reigns to her deputy Sean Pernell, who will run for Governor, and allow a governor with power to run the state for the next year and a half.

Yes, this is unconventional, and it certainly opens herself up to being viewed as a quitter. Substantively, it's hard to see how this is any different than what both President Bush and President Obama did. I don't understand why Governor Palin is excoriated for "quitting on her voters" while President Obama and President Bush got a total free pass for doing nothing different. Why is resigning when you no longer have any power to do anything of substance quitting, while resigning to seek higher office seen as noble? President Obama was elected to serve a six year term. Two years in he effectively stopped doing the job he was elected for. Four years later he officially stopped. No one called him a quitter.

Now, it's possible that Palin quit because of an impending scandal. If so, we will find out soon enough. It's also possible that she quit because the media pressure got to her. It's hard to believe the same person that won a state championship on a broken ankle now can't take the media scrutiny. If she quit for the reasons she says she did, it is in fact perfectly reasonable to believe that she quit because she saw the political landscape and realized that she was no longer the best person to lead the state. If so, that was a bold and risky strategy and it yet may backfire. I would, however, caution her critics. If she is to be excoriated for her decision, then almost the entire political class deserves the same treatment. If Palin "quit on her voters", then every politician that leaves early has done the same, including the last two presidents. I, for one, don't think that what Palin, Bush and Obama did was all right. I don't think any politician should leave their post before it's time. That said, if Bush and Obama become president after abandoning their voters, then we should all take pause before excoriating Palin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Palin "quit on her voters", then every politician that leaves early has done the same, including the last two presidents.

And the current Secretary of State.